Can Medicaid help while we get guardianship?

2 answers | Last updated: Nov 19, 2010
Spring b asked...

My mother and father-in-law moved in with us last year. My father-in-law needs home care. They own a house and two vehicles. They have $15,000 in life insurance between the two. My mother-in-law has $5,000 in stock and all the property is in Florida. We tried to get them to a lawyer to have things put in order; however, because of the progression of the dementia we could not get it done. We are now working on guardianship and are only at the start of the process. We applied for Medicaid to help pay for the home care. My question is, will Medicaid help us even though we can't do anything with their property until the guardianship is completed?

Expert Answers

Depending on the rules of Medicaid applications in your state, your mother-in-law (as spouse) may be able to file an application for Medicaid on behalf of your father-in-law, even before guardianship is completed. However, even assuming that Medicaid is willing to process the application without guardianship, your father-in-law might not be eligible because of the property he owns. A home is only exempt from Medicaid eligibility consideration if the applicant is living in it. Because your father-in-law and mother-in-law are now living with you, their house in Florida becomes just another asset, like bank savings or stocks. The value of the house, plus their stocks, is likely to make your father-in-law ineligible for Medicaid.

Even after you manage to obtain guardianship and sell the Florida property (which is what it sounds like you're intending to do), the money he and your mother-in-law receive from the sale of the house may continue to mean that your father-in-law probably won't be eligible for Medicaid coverage of home care. Until he and your mother-in-law spend down their assets -- including what they receive for the house -- to a total that meets the Medicaid asset eligibility limits for home care coverage in your state, he won't be eligible for that coverage. The local Medicaid office can tell you what the asset limits are for Medicaid home care coverage in your state.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

You may want to consider adult day care for your father-in-law. In many cases, Medicaid covers the cost of adult day care and until he is approved for coverage the average cost per day is less than home care. Go to Active Day for a cost comparison and more information on the benefits of adult day care. Most adult day cares provide transportation and will give your mother-in-law and you guys the respite you need.